IBM Offers SaaS Perks

IBM opened the door to new resources for ISVs who create — or are thinking of creating — software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications for businesses, officials announced Wednesday.

The most visible bonus to developers in Big Blue’s PartnerWorld Industry Networks program is a directory for customers that promotes their wares, called the “Software as Services Showcase.” (IBM uses the term software as services [SaS] rather than the industry-wide SaaS.)

Included in the directory, currently made up of 20 ISVs, are customer relationship management (CRM) vendor Siebel and invoice approval and payment company Direct Insite.

SaaS represents a sea change in the way corporations have, until recently, run their software.

According to a recent report by research firm IDC, the market for SaaS reached an all-time high of $4.2 billion in 2004, a nearly 40 percent bump from the previous year. That number, according to the report, is expected to reach $10.7 billion by 2009.

IBM is also offering incentives to other members of its ISV program to develop SaaS applications. Traditional software vendors that adapt their programs to a hosted model will gain access to sales and marketing resources tailored to the SaaS industry.

IBM also introduced two technical workshops. One shows ISVs how an investment in the SaaS model would impact their business and the other helps developers re-architect their software.

“We are committed to helping ISVs understand the technical and business benefits of adopting a SaS model, find new ways to manage change and support their customers while lowering the costs of doing business,” Buell Duncan, IBM ISV and developer relations general manager, said in a statement.

IBM has spent a considerable amount of time and money beefing up its ISV partnership program, of which the SaaS component is just one part. The company made a $1 billion pledge in 2004 to support its partners through sales and marketing joint ventures, resources and other means, and it plans to spend the same in 2005.

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